The internet’s popularity as a news source is indisputable, and the number of people who go online to find their news on a daily basis is still growing.
In mid-2010, only 9% of respondents got their news exclusively through digital channels, compared with 39% who used only traditional media, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. However, 36% said they used both digital and traditional media on a daily basis.
“This is the challenge for print publishers with internet news pages,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “The Digital News Audience: 24/7 Participation.” “While the number of digital newspaper readers will continue to grow as digital devices proliferate, the number of print newspaper readers will remain flat or continue to drop.”
This growing online news audience skews young and male, with higher levels of education and income than the general internet population. This is an attractive demographic segment for many marketers. The online news audience is ready for creative, interactive ads even as they skim the headlines.
Overall, search engines remain the primary starting point for internet users looking for news, but social media has a growing role. This “social news” audience differs from the general online news audience in some significant ways, according to Pew. For one, females (47%) are more likely than males (41%) to get news on social sites. And far fewer boomers (32%) and seniors (18%) rely on social sites for news. Only the youngest adults (under 30) get news through social networks or Twitter at least sometimes in similar percentages to those who said they go online to get news at least three times a week.
To make digital a solid leg of their business, news publishers must remember to retain their credibility and keep loyal news seekers coming back, build communities around content to encourage continuous participation beyond reading breaking news, and take advantage of social channels for disseminating information and enabling sharing.
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